The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

THE PAPER BOY

I think that the first job that I ever had, that paid me any money, was selling Sunday papers, door to door, in Three Rivers. That must have been about 1921, because we moved there in the spring of 1920 and it was only a short time later that I started. The first route that I had was Second Ward East, in other words, all of the Second Ward East of Sixth Street, now South Main Street. I would start out from "Buzzer" Knapp's News Agency, on Portage Avenue, with 80 or 90 papers which were a mixture of Chicago Tribunes, Chicago Hearld and Examiners, Detroit News, and Detroit Free Press.

When I first started I didn't have a wagon of my own to carry the papers in, but John and Orin Whittenburg had a Studebaker wagon that I rented, for 10 cents a Sunday, until I got enough money ahead to buy one of my own. That wagon of the Whittenburg's was a true replica, in miniature, of the Studebaker farm wagon that was popular with the farmers, at that time.

I don't remember how much I got for selling each paper, but it must have been a cent or a cent and a half, because I recall that a good day would net me about a dollar. When I first started, the papers sold for 10 cents each, but when the price was raised to 12 cents, several people quit me because they wouldn't pay that much for a Sunday paper.

A couple of years after I started selling papers, Buzzer developed a heart condition, and his doctors suggested that he spend more time out of doors, with more exercise. He made me a proposition that if I would get down to the store early enough, each week-day morning, he and I would deliver all of the morning papers, using his car. We tried it and it appeared to work out alright. When we were almost finished with our first trial run, Buzzer dropped me off at the First Ward School, with the intention of finishing the delivery by himself. I found out later, that day, that he had only driven a few blocks from the school, then pulled his car over to the curb and died of a heart attack.

Buzzer's brother Art, came over from Sturgis and took over the News Agency. If I remember correctly, that was when the price of the Sunday papers went from 10 to 12 cents. After Buzzer's death, the morning delivery concept was abandoned and all of us paperboys resumed our former routes. As time went on I got different and better routes, and then I finally quit Knapp's and took a route carrying the Three Rivers Commercial. That was a daily paper and the route covered all of the Fourth Ward, which was the Ward in which we lived.

At one time or another, I have carried papers, of some kind, on every street in Three Rivers.

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